When: Tue., Dec. 15, 9 p.m. 2015
I first heard about Goatsnake as “one of the groups Greg Anderson from Southern Lord played guitar in before Sunn O))),” and in case that’s where you’re still at, let me catch you up. This groovy, charcoal-dark stoner-doom band, formed in Los Angeles in 1996, originally consisted of Anderson, front man Pete Stahl (who sang in 80s D.C. hardcore band Scream, where a young Dave Grohl played drums), and the rhythm section from the Obsessed—drummer Greg Rogers and bassist Guy Pinhas. (Maybe you’re getting an idea why folks consider Goatsnake a big deal.) They fell silent in the early aughts, after two albums, then re-formed for a Roadburn set in 2010. They hadn’t written any new material together since 1999—they’d started families and other projects—but Anderson, Stahl, and Rogers soon enlisted new bassist Scott Renner for their first full-length in 15 years, this year’s Black Age Blues (Southern Lord). The guitars aren’t tuned quite as low as back in the day, and the tempos aren’t as slow—it sounds like Goatsnake have got their wagon wheels out of the mud. The new record is less miasmic and nightmarish, and though it’s just as thoroughly saturated with pitch-black blues, it’s sassier, looser, and more upbeat, bustling with strutting boogie beats and hip-check syncopations. The catchy, enveloping riffs seem to tell you exactly where to nod your head, but the songs’ obvious metrical convolutions make staying on the backbeat surprisingly tough—the way these guys deliberately fuck with what they do best makes them seem charmingly louche. Plus Stahl keeps the music planted in the dirt with his soulful, self-assured melodies and scuffed-boots harmonica solos.